What Some Call Paranoia...


alia_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif

Scene Title What Some Call Paranoia…
Synopsis … others would label caution.
Date December 11, 2010

Lower East Side in an alley across from 36 Gramercy Park East

The Lower East side is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City. Starting south of East Hudson Street and west of the East River, it is also bordered by Chinatown and the East Village. Tenemant housing is very prominent here, as well as many religious structures and more than a few excellent kosher delis and bakeries. For those in search of entertainment, the Lower East is home to many bars and live music venues.

10:00 on a Saturday morning, well past the end of curfew but early enough for crowds on the streets to not be so thick as to be troublesome, but late enough for there to be activity which makes her goal of moving around without catching the attention of soldiers or police easier to achieve, she steps into an alley across the street from 36 Gramercy Park East. It faces the building with its crumbling gargoyles.

Alertness is applied, not only to watch for signs of Federal and/or local authority which might really ruin her day, but also for the presence of criminal trouble and homeless persons or anyone else who shouldn't hear their discussions.

Here, in this place, Cat waits with Alia for the arrival of a shadowy person who might well already be here, stowed away in their clothing. In her case, it's decent winter gear in enough layers to obscure a feminine shape with the parka's hood up.

A cup of coffee. A 'plain' red and green scarf, plain compared to her Space Invaders one. A hat, sunglasses, a heavy plain brown jacket… Alia is dressed to not stick out. She's also left her skateboard behind on this meeting with the feline she hasn't seen in a rather long time, relatively speaking. While Alia isn't in as deep a hiding as Cat, she did pick clothing that doesn't draw attention, unlike her normal.

"Catherine." The greeting comes before the man, the shadows beside a particularly graffiti-stained dumpster bulging outwards to allow Richard Cardinal to step free of them, drawing them with him to solidify into flesh, bones, clothing. Black BDUs and a Redbird Security jacket. He's looking a little unshaven, and there's an edge of shadow beneath his sunglasses that hints at a lack of sleep. He leans back against the wall, one foot kicking up to lean against the brick, arms folding loosely over his chest as he offers over a faint smile, "You're being more paranoid than usual. S'pose I can't blame you, given the situation lately."

"What some call paranoia others would label caution," Cat replies with a dry tone as eyes sweep across to settle on the re-embodied man, "just because my home hasn't been raided doesn't mean it won't soon as I show up there, and that there doesn't seem to be surveillance is perhaps because observers want it to seem so."

A stretch of silence dawns as she shifts a glance over to the screen of the laptop Alia carries, checking to see if the technopath has opted to communicate in her pictographic way and finding the device hasn’t been taken out yet, before returning eyes to the Redbird.

"It seems caution colors your actions again also, Richard, declining to meet at your own place of business."

Alia coughs slightly. "Wise caution. Warren sent Rabbit to poke at Redbird. Looking for him, I think." The words are spoken quite clearly, and carefully. She leaves the computer in her backpack where it is, turned off.

"Warren…" Cardinal's chin dips down and to the side, glancing down the alley, "…that's gonna be an interesting conversation. Make sure that Liz'n Peyton know, and update our digital security."

Back to Catherine, he brings a hand up to scratch against the curve of his jaw where his stubble's starting to turn into more of a beard. "First've all… I know that the Ferry picked up a stack've prophetic paintings in Russia," he says quietly, "I'd really like to get a look at those."

"Wireless is indisposed, for unknown reasons," Cat reports, "on the technopathic front. Last message I sent to her got a reply of Wireless who? from someone who wasn't her. I sent word to Peyton by secure non-electronic means, but she hasn't replied, so I don't know if it got through."

With that relayed, she turns her attention to the topic Mr. Clemens introduced. "Interesting. There are fourteen of them." Her head turns, a nod is given to Alia, as Cat believes and hopes she has them on the stored-away portable computer.

Alia digs out her laptop. Indeed the digital photos of the paintings are stored on it, among other things. She pulls them up to put on display at an angle so neither anyone on the street nor an overhead high resolution satellite could see.

"You have them? Good, I'll look them over later…" Cardinal dips a nod to Alia, flashing her a moment's quick smile, "Print me out some hardcopy if you could."

He regards Catherine for a few silent moments, then, before grimacing, "I guess she didn't pass on word to you all yet. Her power's been… taken from her. John Logan has it now. I don't know how long it'll take him to get a handle on it, but… I'd disconnect your files from the 'net if I were you."

She's got her mouth open, about to suggest Cardinal review the art here and now because she's interested in his thoughts, but no words emerge. The eyes darken, features twist into a scowl, and the mouth closes. This silence persists for some extended seconds before speech is managed, coming out in a voice close to growling quality.

"Word is out of Wireless being compromised, but nothing said about the reason behind it. What you tell me is consistent with the reply I got Monday evening, doubtless John had no clue who Wireless is."

Silence again, as she mulls over the implications of that situation.

"So… indirectly, Richard, you're telling me the Institute has put Tyler Case to work?"

Alia looks just a touch like she is developing a headache. "… Someone… other than Wireless… has her…ability?" She considers her own existence a moment. "First week, overload. Have time." She states. The problem Alia sees is… how do you Wireless-proof something without killing the network that makes it worth using. She frowns at Cardinal a moment. "Hardcopy. Sure. Old place?" She asks as she will have to deliver it to him… and sure as hell she's not sending the Alley Cats looking for him. Albeit she has her own guess, having known the Shadow long enough to at least take an educated guess as to where he had been haunting.

"Yes… and no." Cardinal brings a hand up, fingers sliding up along the bridge of his nose to rub against it as he murmurs in pained tones, "The head of the Institute had Carpenter xerox his brain over into Tyler's head. An 'accident' he called it, but if you believe that one I've got a bridge to sell you. Claims that Tyler's memory engrams are in some third body, but I haven't seen any proof of that yet."

A look back to Alia, and he nods, "Yeah. Old place. And Logan… well. Given that he's got a hit out on me, I'm not thrilled about this."

"I would like to find Hana Gitelman, and see if she's sticking with John Logan to help him learn how to manage this situation, or using his transplanted talents to keep him negated." Cat is quietly fuming, evidence scant on her face which shows stoicism again, the mood shows in the tone of her voice and the way words are slowly spoken. "Simon Brum is now running around transplanting abilities. To what end?"

Another pause.

"Why does John Logan want you assassinated, Richard? Is this tied to a lingering grudge over taking down his brothel slavery operation to rescue Abby, among others?"

Alia rubs her forehead. The laptop's screen changes to a personal organizer, which fills in a to-do list. On it already was 'investigate liberty.net', it adds 'Wireless Proof Villiage Ren,’ followed by 'Wireless Proof Redbird'. A side note says "Research White Rabbit, Warren", Followed by "History of Cardinal?" scribbled in. It seems that Alia has a lot of interesting things bouncing around her head.

A shoulder lifts, Cardinal's head shaking even as she asks the question. "Found out that I was working with Zarek to take down Linderman safely… probably had Ling or someone similar take down Kain, then came after me. It's just underworld shit, I really don't have time to deal with it, but it's kind've obnoxious having to keep my head down. Y'know-" A vague motion, "-more than usual."

He closes his eyes, then, leaning back to rest his scalp against the brick wall. "I didn't mean Simon. Simon's just… upper management. I meant his superior. He's a man from the future, who's doing everything he goddamn can to keep the timeline the same as it was the first time around… the same hell that drove him insane and desperate enough to go back and start the Institute."

"That's new," Cat replies, "Simon having a person senior to him, other than Nathan Petrelli. Hadn't seen that one coming. What's this man's name?" Calm outward demeanor is kept, her stoicism seemingly unchallenged, except for that tense tone of voice and speaking manner which persists. "Is he an incarnation of Edward Ray? The power switching habit has his scent and fingerprints all over it."

And brief attention to another topic. "Could just finally eliminate John Logan, though the contract he put out would survive him."

Alia considers something… then idly three pages from the backed up Catabase open themselves, on the topics of… Edward Ray, Hiro, and… Cardinal himself. Known manipulators of the timeline to Alia, perhaps? And then there's the fact that Cardinal seems VERY upset about this mystery man's actions. "Printer at Redbird is go. Get them to you this afternoon?" She speaks as if the computer was doing its own thing. Maybe as far as she's concerned at the moment it is.

"Go ahead," Cardinal murmurs to the proposal about killing Logan, "I don't have the time, but if you want to put a bullet in his head, I wouldn't shed any tears. I might get Abigail to bake you a little cake, even."

"Petrelli doesn't have any real influence over what they're doing at the Institute. Trust me on that. They hate the sonuvabitch as much as you and I do… the important thing is that they're trying to keep the timeline stable. They're trying to make sure that all the atrocities happen. That the deviations aren't too much for them to predict and profit from." His head drops from the wall, and he flashes over a nearly feral smile, "You once told me you wanted everyone to know the truth, Cat. That still true?"

Eyes drift between Cardinal and Alia, reading the technopath's display on the machine then returning to the Logan hunted shadowman, who she watches in silence. "A man may hold the Oval Office," she agrees, "but that doesn't mean he's in full control. Or is told everything pertinent to the job. And as for the truth, yes. It would cause upheaval, but it would also break the political power of everyone tied into this entire mess. Assuming, of course, we can remove Mitchell from the equation."

Moments later, after a bit more silent contemplation, she remarks "I think I know a way to really torture John Logan."

Alia looks between Cardinal and Cat…then there's a slow grin on her face. She looks to Cardinal as the laptop's screen switches to a map, showing the broadcast range of several jammers. She quirks an eyebrow curiously "Think they still work?" The technopath considers what is being said. "… will cause a second riot this way?" She notes grimly. It's more than even odds. Unvarnished truth can do some very destructive things.

"You didn't think I'd forgotten about them, did you…?" A twitch of Cardinal's smirk wider at Alia's words, and then it fades, his chin dipping in a slight nod, his voice turning grim, "Casualties of war. Because we are at war now. There's no escaping it. If we want any chance of a future we're willing to live with, we have to rip the timeline from its moorings and turn it in a whole new direction. No more nudges and pushes here and there. It's too late for that."

Back to Cat, he nods once, "Then I need everything. Every bit of documentation, every scrap of audio or video you have. Every eyewitness account, every rumor, everything. Nothing that endangers the Ferry, safehouse locations and shit— just everything that shows what they've done. The government, Pinehearst, the Company, the Institute. It doesn't need to be legal evidence. It just needs to be true."

"My idea to torture John Logan is simple enough, we can maybe use it to find Hana too." But the details remain confined to her mind for the moment. "Information will come your way, Richard," Cat agrees, "but it's a two way road. I want to see all the files you might be keeping. Notably, right here and now, you've not told me the name of the Institute's true head. You glossed over it, neither confirming nor denying it's an incarnation of Edward Ray." She flashes a brief grin.

"I sense there's more story than you've provided so far."

There's silence for a few moments, and then Cardinal smiles a faint smile, his head falling back once more against the wall. Behind the shades, his eyes close. "It's not Edward," he says quietly, "He's in a medicated coma in Cambridge, they won't let him out of it, since he'd interfere with their work. Who do you know that's audacious enough, arrogant enough, to actually go back in time fifty or so years and start working to repair the future, Catherine?"

"There are a number of people who fit that description. Edward comes to mind, I doubt the incarnation the Institute keeps in one of their metal coffins is the only one in existence somewhere. Nathan Petrelli, his mother, Linderman, whomever were behind those moves Hiro recruited people to counteract recently… which reminds me, I need to track down Rhys, he can hopefully tell me what the whole plan Rupert had was, I keep feeling there's another shoe still to drop…" Cat trails off here.

Her head tilts to one side, brown eyes on Richard in a sort of gentle staredown which says one word without the use of her voice.


Alia tilts her head. "Hiro's reputation. He doesn't upset when can be helped." She pauses, and looks at Cardinal sharply, and says but two words. "Different you?"

A single eyebrow lifts over the edge of Richard's shades as he listens to her running through the list of possibilities, a self-depreciating smirk twitching upon his lips. Then Alia speaks, and he tilts his head her way. "Got it in one," he says quietly, "Through a mirror darkly, so to speak."

This revelation causes the taller of these two females to simply stare at the man of shadows, her mouth briefly hanging open. Apparent speechlessness extends out across a span of some ten seconds before words are managed in a quiet voice. "It would seem, Mr. Clemens, that just as reports of your demise were greatly exaggerated, impressions of your arrogance have been, or are, greatly underestimated."

After another pause she opines "This is surely a tale which would exceed the talents of Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, H. G. Wells, and Ian Fleming combined."

Alia shakes her head a moment and sighs as she thinks. "Copy digital web from secure PC, Cardinal?" She is asking permission. It seems she knows she's going to be the one tossing the 'files' to the opposite side of her own fence, might as well make it easy/sane for the person in the middle. "Truth, stranger than fiction."

"Trust me, Catherine…" Cardinal's head shakes slowly from side to side, "…it gets even worse than you know. I'm not him, though, and it's about time for him to fucking learn that. I'm not going to let him run roughshod over the world and twist it to his purposes. I'll take his future and rip it apart with my bare hands if I have to."

There's venom in those words, an anger that runs bone deep.

"Hm? Sure." He throws off permission to Alia, having no idea what she just said.

"The chess game shifts," Cat muses, "in that it's most likely this other, older you didn't encounter the younger version of himself along the way, and learn of that existence. Now, many might disagree with putting out the whole truth, say it would undermine the country, damage institutions beyond repair, empower other countries to take advantage of it, and they may well be right. Riots far worse than ever before could happen, among other things. I would, of course, recommend putting out the info in bits and pieces so it can be digested over time, rather than a flood, but in the end the most important thing is this: empowering the people at large to collectively shape the future with information as full and as free as can be provided, rather than have them follow the manipulations of few in the darkness."

"I don't see why we can't do both." Cardinal shakes his head slightly, "We can release to the public at large the truth bits at a time… and we can take the whole flood and dump it on the desk of every senator, every representative, every judge, every reporter in the country. One man alone cannot fight the future…"

He smirks, "…so let's see how many can."

Alia nods, and tucks the laptop away. She has a busy night or two ahead of her… then she grins. "Make the plan. I will help make it happen."

"They will try to kill the signals, and we can let their protestations do our work. Many, if not most, will disbelieve, but some will and from there it spreads. It sows seeds of doubt, raises questions, and Federal explanations will often not truly suffice. Over time, there will be more and more semblance of a quote from Hamlet: methinks they doth protest too much." Cat, with her head tilting again toward Cardinal, floats a pair of questions.

"An elderly you occupies the body of Tyler Case, and switched off Hana with John Logan. He's using a page from Edward's book, and this can't be the extent of that line of action. Has anyone else been set upon?"

"A few of my people got switched around," Cardinal admits with a shake of his head, "We're handling that internally. I don't know if he's hit anyone else outside my personal circle - logic says he probably did. He only hit Redbird to try and scare me off." A smirk twitches to his lips, "He really must've forgotten who he's dealing with."

Alia shakes her head, and has nothing to say to the situation as she watches the alley.

"I need to put out the word about Tyler Case being on the move, interfering with people," Cat states, "so anyone seeing him knows to evade and escape if possible. There's no telling who else might be targeted." Feet go into motion, taking her to the alley's mouth, where she turns partly back. "We should talk over those images after you study them, Mr. Clemens. I'm interested in your take on things."

With that, she's on her way again, headed back to the secret HQ where she anticipates reading the entirety of Cardinal's archives.

"No lethal force. If possible, I'd like to get Tyler properly in charge of his own body…" Cardinal shakes his head slowly from side to side, "…I owe him that much, at least."

"Noted," Cat replies in once more turning back to face the shadowman, "ideally there'd be no force at all. Standing toe to toe with him only provides an opportunity to work his mojo. Avoidance is best." It's an assertion, a belief stated just before she turns the corner and exits the alley, eyes studying the building with crumbling gargoyles across the street and scanning all around nonchalantly for the presence of hostile persons.

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